Notes on representation

After reading this fascinating item from Laura Rozen on what have to be interpreted as ideological litmus tests by the State department for choosing which Americans go as representatives to other countries, I came across this news item on the appointment of Frank Wisner as the US representative to the status talks on Kosovo. Frank Wisner is an interesting fellow. Not as interesting as his father, though.

Update, 4 December: (Thanks, Chip.) That's not all! Look who has been appointed as deputy director of USAID, in charge of all programs to promote democracy and good governance overseas! Since Mr Bonicelli is a dean at Patrick Henry College, which promises "conscious torment for eternity" to people with religious views different from those of the institution's administration (who are "by nature sinful and inherently in need of salvation"), he should fit right in.


чип said...

нема на чему!

And praise Jesus!!! (if we want to ever get any funding or access to USAID...)

Eric Gordy said...

As my pastor would say, this is incredible meshugas.

Anonymous said...

This appointment will probably go through; it's a deputy-level, and those don't get a very high level of scrutiny.

That said, it's a damnably important post. Democracy & Governance (or D&G if you want to be one of the cool kids) covers a wide, wide range of programns, from hippy-dippy stuff about good government and empowerment to Cold War-style spookwork. Support for OTPOR and the various color-coded revolutions in the fUSSR went through D&G.

The really interesting question is, who will they appoint to replace Natsios -- the head of USAID, Bonicelli's boss, who just resigned on Friday. He was a moderate New England Republican.

USAID is pretty important -- it's really like a second State Department -- so we can hope it's at least someone competent. Of course, Natsios came to AID from a couple of years managing the Big Dig in Boston.

Doug M.

Anonymous said...

Oddly enough, Kosovo also has troubled power plants.

Did the ones in the Philippines ever get fixed, I wonder.

Strangely, I'm less alarmed by this appointment than you may be. We could have done worse... much worse. Kosovo is so small, remote and backwards that there's not really an agenda there, other than backing "our guys". (Yes, I know about the planned pipeline route. Emphasis on planned; that thing's been out there for six years now, not a shovel of earth has been turned, and there are three rival routes.)

It's hard to look past the plump Republican Enron executive to see if there's real intelligence and competence there. So I'm agnostic on Frank Wisner.

Idle thought: Serbian-Americans have trended strongly Republican ever since Kosovo. (Albanian-Americans are strongly Democrats, but then they always were -- most lived in big cities.) If the Bush administration is seen to be the midwife of Kosovar independence, I wonder what effect, if any, that will have.

Doug M.

Eric Gordy said...

Are you sure about this Republican and Democrat business? I know a couple of people have been going around with this "Serbs elected Bush" thesis, but I say that in the US both the Serbian and Albanian populations are too unorganised and dispersed to vote as a bloc at all.

Anonymous said...

My impression is that Serbs and Albanians do vote as a bloc at the presidential level. Check out, say, serbsforbush.org (or its close cousin, orthodoxchristiansforbush). There's a fairly high level of organization in evidence there.

I wouldn't say "Serbs elected Bush", no. I would say that, after 1999, Serbian-Americans tipped much more strongly Republican.

(The interesting exception is in Illinois, where the presence of a Serbian-American candidate for Governor trumped resentment over Kosovo; Illinois SAs turned out in force to campaign and vote for B-Rod. But that was not in a Presidential year.)

The "Serbs elected Bush" thing has its origin in the fact that there are a lot of SAs in Ohio. Enough to provide Bush's margin of victory? I doubt it, but it's not a completely insane idea.

There are an estimated three hundred thousand Serbian-Americans in Ohio. (And yes, it's a very broad estimate.) Assuming 70% of them are of voting age, and 70% of those turned out to vote (high, but not unheard of in a small ethnic group with strong feelings), that's around 150,000 votes.

Say they shifted from 50-50 Republican to 90-10. That'd be a gain of 40% of 150,000, or 60,000 votes.

Bush's final margin in Ohio was, what, 115,000 votes?

So you can make a plausible case that the Serb vote was, while not decisive, pretty significant.

Albanians have probably had less impact on elections, because they're disproportionately concentrated in a few urban areas (New York, Boston) that are one-party or close to it. However, they've been /very/ good at fundraising and lobbying.

Doug M.